New colleges will have doubles, more students

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Photo by Henry Ehrenberg.

With less than a year to go before Yale breaks ground on its two new residential colleges, the University has decided to alter its design plans — adding more than 50 new beds and replacing some singles with doubles.

According to several senior administrators, decisions were made earlier this year to change the size of the colleges as well as the method of transitioning new students into the colleges. In 2012, the administration announced that the new residential colleges would comprise only single rooms. But with the addition of some doubles into the plan, the occupants of the colleges will rise from 850 to 904, said School of Architecture Dean Robert Stern. Stern’s firm, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, is in charge of the design project.

Provost Benjamin Polak added that the first enlarged freshman class will be moved into the new colleges in 2017, and not staggered in 2016 as previously stated.

“As faculty and deans have reviewed the plans, it has been decided to house the freshmen in suites of non-bunked doubles, and to provide for some double rooms for upperclassmen, so that the combined resident population of the two colleges will be 904 students — 452 in each,” Stern said.

University President Peter Salovey said that the motivations for the addition of doubles to the new colleges included the mitigation of crowding in the 12 existing colleges and students’ desires to live in suites as opposed to stand-alone singles. Under the new plans, the balance of suites and stand-alone singles in the new colleges will more closely resemble the plans of existing colleges.

Polak said many students actually enjoy having doubles, according to conversations he has had with undergraduates.

He added that the increase in the size of the residential colleges was not a financially motivated decision.

Stern said that changes in design are routine as projects evolve.

“The changes now being contemplated do not compromise the original goals and artistic vision I had for the design,” he said.

Those working on the designs, he added, are currently in the process of finalizing them for a May 1 deadline.

Polak — noting that the opening of the colleges is still three years away — said any projections for the total number of undergraduates by the time the colleges open are only estimates right now. The reason for the uncertainty, Salovey said, is that the number of beds in the new colleges and total number of new Yale College students may not necessarily be the same, since the new colleges will also help the University ease crowding in the current colleges.

Additionally, administrators noted a major change in the University’s plans for how it will introduce the new students into the colleges. Rather than staggering the transition of new students starting in 2016 and gradually increasing this number each year, Yale will now simply admit a full cohort of freshmen for the new colleges in 2017.

The University has also scrapped its previous plans to have its initial set of additional freshmen live in Swing Space during their first year when the new colleges will still be under construction. Instead, now, the new freshmen will move directly into the new colleges.

The addition of the two new residential colleges, both on Prospect Street, was first approved by the Yale Corporation in June 2008.

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